US: COVID-19 deaths surpass 450K, daily death toll stubbornly high
(Sourced from PTI)
The coronavirus deaths in the United States surpassed 450,000 on Thursday, and daily deaths remain stubbornly high at more than 3,000 a day, despite falling COVID-19 infections. "Infectious disease specialists expect deaths to start dropping soon after new cases hit a peak right around the beginning of the year," said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the new Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dr. Walensky said, "New COVID-19 deaths could ebb as early as next week, but there is also the risk that improving trends in infections and hospitalizations could be offset by people relaxing and coming together, including this Sunday, to watch football."
Dr. Walensky further said that one reason that cases and hospitalizations are not rising as dramatically as they were weeks ago is that the effect of holiday gatherings has faded. "The effect on deaths is delayed. The daily toll amounts to 50,000 new fatalities in the last two weeks alone," she added.
USA reported 3,912 COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday, down from the pandemic peak of 4,466 deaths on January 12. The biggest driver to the US death toll over the past month has been California, which has averaged more than 500 deaths per day in recent weeks.
Dora Padilla was among thousands of Californians who died last month. "She tested positive in December at the facility where she lived, then developed a fever and saw her oxygen level drop. The facility was going to call an ambulance but decided to treat her there amid a surge in infections that filled local hospitals with virus patients," said her daughter Lisa Jones.
Padilla, 86, served two decades as a trustee for Southern California's Alhambra Unified School District after helping out as a parent volunteer and band booster for her children. She was amongst the few Latinos to hold elected office at the time.
California's experience has mirrored many of the inequalities that have been exposed since the pandemic began nearly a year ago, with people of color being hit especially hard. For example, Latinos make up 46 percent of California's overall death toll, despite being 39 percent of the state's population. The situation has worsened in recent months.
Alabama is another hot spot. The seven-day rolling average of deaths in Alabama has risen over the past two weeks, from 74 to 147 deaths per day. Kentucky, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Tennessee also saw surges in deaths.
"The hardest-hit demographic groups continue to be the oldest and frailest," said Dr. Thomas Holland of the Duke University. "When the coronavirus first swept through the country, it was concentrated in nursing homes, prisons, and other congregate care settings. It later spread more broadly. But deaths have still been concentrated among older patients and patients with other health problems," he added.
In Florida, 83 percent of deaths attributed to the virus have been in people 65 and older. Public health experts are watching Florida closely this week because the Super Bowl will be played in Tampa. City leaders and the NFL are trying to ensure social distancing by capping attendance at a third of the stadium's capacity - 22,000 people.